August 2003 News

First tension free Independence Day inSrinagar after 13 years

15 August 2003
The Daily Excelsior

SRINAGAR: For the first time after 13 years, the Independence Day (ID) was today celebrated in an almost tension-free atmosphere in the city but under unprecedented security arrangments around the Bakshi Stadium. For the first time, about 15,000 people, mostly from villages, attended the main ID function at Bakshi Stadium where Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed unfurled the National Flag and took salute. It was also for the first time that children from about a dozen local schools took part in the march past. Also for the first time at Haft Chinar in the immediate neighbourhood of the stadium, a number of shops were open and people, besides security forces, were seen making purchases. The locality in the past remained under the total control of security force personnel wearing bullet proof jackets and holding automatic weapons with no civilian visible. 'The situation has changed a lot as compared to last year when even the ill and aged persons were not allowed to walk on the road from Rambagh to Exhibiton Crossing,' said Abdul Aziz, a resident of Natipora, who was on way to hospital to see his ailing brother. 'We pray to God almighty to restore peace as the people of the Kashmir have seen enough death and destruction,' he said. A UNI correspondent who visited a number of localities in the city saw some shops open, children playing cricket and elders discussing the latest political situation. The security force personnel deployed in these localties were also seen in a relaxed mood enjoying the cricket match played on the roads as there was hardly any traffic movement. There was very less deployment of Border Security Force (BSF) personnel this time. Official sources said that this time the State Police personnel were deployed in strength to restore confidence of the people who feel more comfortable to communicate with them in Kashmiri. The Jammu and Kashmir Police had taken full control of the Bakshi Stadium. However, BSF personnel could be seen guarding the stadium outside. Sharp shooters from the BSF could also been seen on the high rise buildings around the stadium to keep a close watch with the help of binoculars. Here again, the participation of the people was highest during the past 13 years. This correspondent could see dozens of private buses carrying people from different villages to the stadium. However, this time too, participation from the city people was less. (UNI)  


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